Thursday, May 21, 2015

Art and Obstacles

When I started this second art project, I had envisioned the body at the bottom as the left over char with some flames coming through, or perhaps just the hint of embers. Then smoke rising from it to become a flaming beauty rising from the ash, having overcome ... I don't know, whatever it was that caused her to burn to begin with. I can see it in my mind, beautiful and shining, with a dark background.

However, not being experienced with producing flames by hand, I had to do some trials. I don't know *why* I am showing you my process of thinking out loud, but here it is.

First thing I did was play with the shape of flames. And whether or not I should give her wings.

In the end, she just looked furry, but I figured that's what sketched flames look like, since I wasn't coloring anything, just messing with shapes.

Then I started with colored pencil on the body laying on the ground. One looks like charred logs, one looks like it's still on fire. Both I did with colored pencil for the color comps.  The overall feedback was that if the top figure rising up was going to be in flames, the charred look was better. Another suggested that instead of having her look like logs, have the body look like burned paper, burning up and leaving nothing behind.

So after all the feedback on the color comps for the bodies on the ground, I started a basic color comp on the rising body. I KNOW it's busy with all the marker strokes. I just wanted to see how the colors reacted with the color of the flames. Orange and yellow are the complements of blue and purple, and I wondered which would look better as a background color. I decided a blue/black would look best.

The idea behind all this scribbling being that when finished it would be a starry sky with the leftovers of a fire and the burning body under her. I'm pretty sure that unless you can see in my head what potential I see in this crazy color comp, this just looks busy and terrible.

When I think out loud, it's messy. This process works for me, though...

Anyway, today I painted on a trial background against the figure using goauche. Lots of blue and black. No, I'm not posting a picture of that. My intent was to see how the ink would flow over the paint. I'd had good results with the dragon, but I needed to make sure the yellows and oranges would be opaque enough over the dark paint.

No. They aren't/weren't. Yellow pigment, whether it's acrylic, tempera, goauche, or ink will never, ever, ever be opaque, dammit. Yellow ink over the blue/black still looks green. All the excitement I had over the potential of this project was sucked right out as I looked in frustration at the results of my experimentation.

Part of me just wants to give up on this altogether and move on to another project. However, that is giving up. I really love this image and want to do something with it that is successful. I am aware that not everything I try will be a success on the first try, but it's still frustrating.

So. Given the obstacles, I have to rethink this idea. Options I can currently envision:

* Do the whole thing in oils, mixing white with the yellow to make it opaque enough.

* Get rid of the body below the figure, give her wings and bit more of an angelic feel. That said, the yellow ink didn't look that great on the cream paper by itself, either. It's going to have to be a highlight.

* Do it in colored pencil. ... yuck. I spent a lot of money on a good colored pencil set, and it is my least favorite medium.  This option feels like adding more torture to the frustration of rethinking this.

* Rethink the background? Mix a white paint with the yellow ink? Maybe instead of a dark night contrasting with the bright flames, have a white immediate background that fades into color the further it goes.

* Or... handle it the way I did the dragon? Use calligraphy ink in orange or red and smudge it, then ink over that, and put the background in last? I did the background mixing ink with the goauche. (it looks so awful in photographs... sorry) I could texturize the background that way and still have the figure the way I want it.

I love the feel of this kind of art right here. I want to replicate THIS kind of style. I guess I still need to experiment. Obstacles can be overcome, I just have to find a way over, around, or under this one. It's art. All things are possible with art, right?

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